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Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Snow clones

I went to see There Will Be Blood last night, and it got me to broodin'.

Somebody told me, and I wish they hadn't, that an Internet snow clone was building up about the final scene. (A snow clone, for those you who don't know, is a template phrase in which certain words can be changed for effect. 'X is the new Y' would work as a snow clone; so would the LOLcat 'I'm in your X, Ying your Z.') Now, I like the LOLcats, but the There Will Be Blood snow clone bothered me.

The phrase that's been picked up is 'I drink your milkshake, I drink it up.' Out of context, it seems a curious line, so I can see why it's getting cloned ... but I really wish I didn't know that. The line occurs in the final scene of the film, a point of high drama, where, while the acting is certainly grandiose, there's been more than two hours of build-up. It works fine. I'd been watching the film quite happily, and could have watched that line happily, but suddenly, Daniel Day-Lewis said it, and the Internet clanged in my ear.

I wasn't the only one, either. As we left the cinema, my friend turned to me and said in a regretful tone, 'Am I the only one who forgot all about that "I drink your milkshake" joke until it actually came along?' No, she wasn't. We'd all forgotten. What the snow clone did was disrupt the scene; it's as if you were watching a scene of high drama and some bugger in the audience kept sounding a clown horn when a particular word was spoken.

Grr. Free expression and all that, and if I'd gone to the movie sooner, probably the joke would have passed me by, but it was very tiresome to suddenly be distracted in the middle of a climactic scene.

This isn't an objection to snow clones per se. The 'I'm in your X, Ying your Z', for example, is perfectly nice - but there's a difference. That joke, as far as I'm aware, was always just a joke. It can happen in conversations; somebody makes a joke that can be played around with, everybody runs with it and tosses it around as long as it's funny, and that's all fine. But snow clones work either as sayings or as jokes, and personally, I don't think they mix with drama very well. They smack of wilful misinterpretation of the 'Huh huh he said crack' variety, and since those beggars already wound up making me change one book title, I look at them askance over the top of my auntie glasses.*

Curmudgeonly of me, perhaps, but never mind.

*I actually am an auntie, which makes my glasses auntie glasses, though they are rimless and lightweight and attempt to be fashionable.

Hmmm. I don't think knowing that joke would have changed the movie for me. I am very partial to the phrase as a good shorthand for the geologic phenomenon being described. I guess I'm not sure how it makes a funny joke, but there are many things in that movie that could be effectively mocked.

I didn't like the end. I wish it ended with the scene with HW.
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